Digital Dating

By Anakaren Garcia

Do you ever tire of the traditional dating scene, but you don't know how you feel about looking to the internet? 

According to a study of dating app users in The Statistics Portal, through the entire month of January 2018, 31 percent said they used dating services to get one or more dates and 23 percent of people who took this survey said they used dating services as a means of having a long-term romantic partner. 

People have found their true matches using online dating sites and social media, becoming more and more open to the idea of finding their true love through less traditional means.

Common Dating Apps

For a few years now, dating apps have become more popular in forming relationships and hook-ups. 

Tinder is an app that allows you to create a profile and explore the world of potential matches by swiping left or right on people, emphasizing the impact of a first glance. Tinder officially launched in September 2012. According to the Business of Apps, there are 57 million users worldwide and over 20 billion matches have been made since Tinder initially launched. 

Bumble’s dating app gives a twist to the swiping method. If you’re heterosexual and you get matched up, the woman is the only one allowed to message first. According to Zoosk, another dating site, this feature was made into the app because founder Whitney Wolfe wanted to let women have the control of the situation. Another twist: you are only matched for 24 hours and if the woman hasn’t messaged her match by then, the match is lost. 

According to Expanded Ramblings, Bumble has 40 million registered users as of September 2018 and as of November 2017, Bumble has recorded 850 million matches. “40 percent of US college students say, ‘Tinder is for hookups, and Bumble is for dating,’” according to Business of Apps, “though 54 percent of [them] claim that there is no difference.” Of course, these aren’t the only dating sites and apps out there and it’s not just these dating sites that are helping people find what they want. Riley Bingham, a retail manager at Forever 21 in Yakima, Wash., met her boyfriend and now father of her newborn on Tinder.  “When I first saw my boyfriend’s Tinder page, I was very intrigued because I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this guy is this attractive and 24 years old with two kids,’” says Bingham. “And when I met him in person, I was like wow he is way too good to be true.”

“I fell madly in love with him from the start and having him and our little baby boy in my life I, to this day, still think it’s all too good to be true.”

For Jenna*, a 35-year-old nurse in Yakima, Wash., her experience on the dating site Plenty of Fish was very straightforward. “After messaging back and forth for a couple weeks we met for coffee. It went pretty quick, because we had already established our main likes and dislikes on our dating profiles,” she says. Jenna and her husband dated for a total of six months before moving in together. They have now been living together for seven years and were married last October. 

Not So Common Findings

Dating apps and sites aren’t the only place to find something you’re looking for. Social media can also be used to introduce potential hook-ups and relationships for some people.

Juan Rios, a 25-year-old stay-at-home father, met his wife through Snapchat. Rios recalls it taking him three days to build up enough courage to add his now wife on the app. He was worried that she wouldn’t add him back, not talk to him or even go to the extent of thinking he was a “creep,” he says. But all his worries went out the window on one random night. 

“Truth be told, I was at a party and I was pretty turnt so I was like ‘You know what? I’mma shoot my shot,’” Rios explains. 19-year-old Madilyn Rose Price met her happily ever after on Facebook. ”At first, I thought it was too good to be true. I thought I knew what to expect since I’ve had romantic partners before, but something was just so different and remarkable about the first time we met,” she says.

“I instantly fell for him, and he for me. We were always inseparable in the beginning, and that fact stands even today.”

Price says that although they are living together, she’s “still waiting for the [other] shoe to drop, so to speak.”

Not for Everyone

Sometimes online dating, whether through traditional dating sites or social media, is just not for some people. 

For Fernanda Hernandez, a Hapo Banker in Yakima, Wash., digital dating isn’t her thing. She says it’s superficial, adding that people only want to talk to people who put their best picture forward, judging people based on their best profile picture. 

“Our generation uses online dating to just be with someone with no strings attached,”

she says. But Hernandez doesn’t think dating sites and apps are all bad. “I think the only good thing about online dating is the fact that you, right off the bat, get to know certain things about the person,” she says. “How they look, their age, if they are parents. What [it is] that they’re looking for on an online dating site.”

Taking Precautions 

Although digital dating can be all fun and games, there are times when it can be worrisome. It’s sometimes said that people use these digital dating sites as a way to inflict harm on people. If you’re going to use it, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

According to Bingham, you never really know who it is that you’re talking to and there are people out there who are trying to rob you of money or much worse. Adding to this, Rios believes that you may be genuinely talking to someone, but you don’t know how accurate or up-to-date someone’s profile picture is. Jenna has some advice for those of you who plan on meeting with the perfect stranger.

“Never meet with someone you met just online by yourself ever. Be aware of any red flags,”

she warns. “If by any chance you decide to meet someone, tell a friend where you are going. Make sure you go to a public place where you feel comfortable.” Jenna explains that there have been many times when people meet up with complete strangers and sometimes go alone to meet them and as a result can get sexually assaulted or worse. 

Words of Encouragement 

Do you ever feel like entering the world of digital dating but you’re not exactly sure how you feel about it? Do you worry you won’t find what you’re looking for? 

The 35-year-old nurse from Yakima, Wash. says, “If you are LGBTQ, online dating can be much easier because you can specifically look for people with the gender or sexual orientation that you prefer,” she says. “Also, if you are polyamorous, it can be much easier to find another partner that is open to polyamory and not be judgmental about the fact that you are married and looking to date people outside of your marriage.” Hernandez mentions to not stress over digital dating. It could be that you meet the perfect one for you but just have fun and be open to getting to know new people. 

“For those seeking to get into online dating, I’d say first and foremost, be aware, don’t go in with high guards because you’ll scare off any potential,”

“But, at the same time don’t go in thinking that the first person that messages you back is going to be your soulmate. And definitely be okay with rejections, they happen.”

says Rios. Online dating is nothing to be ashamed of, some people have found their true loves and others just did it to see if it was for them. Either way it goes, don’t knock it until you try it, you might be surprised with the amount of matches you get. 

*name changed for privacy